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What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) is a federal law that provides protections to people with disabilities. One part of the ADA provides protections for employees of employers with more than 15 employees. Other parts of the ADA applies to state and local government and transportation systems. Title III of the ADA applies to public accommodations and is usually the section of the ADA that community associations have questions about.

Public accommodations under the ADA are:

  1. An inn, hotel, motel, or other place of lodging . . .
  2. A restaurant, bar, or other establishment serving food or drink;
  3. A . . . theater . . . or other place of exhibition or entertainment;
  4. An auditorium . . . or other place of public gathering;
  5. A bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center, or other sales or rental establishment;
  6. A laundromat, dry-cleaner, bank, barber shop, beauty shop, travel service, shoe repair service, funeral parlor, gas station, office of an accountant or lawyer, pharmacy, insurance office, professional office of a health care provider, hospital, or other service establishment;
  7. A . . . station used for specified public transportation;
  8. A museum . . . or other place of public display or collection
  9. A park, zoo . . . or other place of recreation;
  10. A . . . place of education;
  11. A day care center . . . or other social service center establishment;
  12. A gymnasium . . . or other place of exercise or recreation.

If the business does not fall within one of the 12 categories, the ADA does not apply. However, the types of businesses within the 12 categories are illustrative. For instance, just because a service establishment is not listed under item six does not mean that it is not covered by the ADA.

If the business is a public accommodation, it has two major obligations under Title III of the ADA: (a) make reasonable accommodations in policies, practices or procedures when it’s necessary to afford the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations to individuals with disabilities; and (b) remove barriers to disabled persons in the areas open to the general public at its own cost if the removal is readily achievable. Under the ADA, both the public accommodation and the landlord have obligations to remove barriers.

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